University of Miami-Florida president Donna Shalala commented publicly for the first time since allegations arose of potential violations within the Hurricanes football program and said Wednesday the school will "vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead."
Reports surfaced last year in the Miami Herald that booster Nevin Shapiro gave well over a dozen players gifts that included jewelry, clothing, entertainment and use of a yacht. An additional report from Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday indicated that Shapiro furnished players with thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits from 2002-10.
Among the names disclosed by both reports were former Hurricane stars Devin Hester, Antrel Rolle and Jon Beason. The Yahoo! Sports story also said some former coaches had direct knowledge of the players' involvement, including former men's basketball coach Frank Haith.
"As a member of the university family, I am upset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations leveled against some current and past student- athletes and members of our athletic department," Shalala wrote. "Make no mistake -- I regard these allegations with the utmost of seriousness and understand the concern of so many of you.
"We will vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead, and I have insisted upon complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students. Our counsel is working jointly with the NCAA Enforcement Division in a thorough and meticulous investigation, which will require our patience.
"I am in daily communication with our Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, director of athletics, and counsel, and will continue to work closely with the leaders of our university."
Shapiro is currently in prison after being sentenced to 20 years for devising a Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 50 investors out of up to $100 million.